by Jeremy Plonk
June 4, 2019
Preakness winner War of Will was installed the 2-1 morning line second choice for Saturday’s Belmont Stakes, despite being the headliner in a field of 10 drawn Tuesday night at Citi Field in Queens. War of Will starts from post 9, while 9-5 morning line favorite Tacitus will begin from the 10-hole in the final jewel of the Triple Crown. The outside posts for the race’s key favorites will be the topic of some discussion in the coming days.
With a 1-1/2 miles circumference, there’s an 843-foot run to the first turn of the Belmont. Compare that with 1,433 feet in the Kentucky Derby where the race begins on an elongated straight. Post 10 has had just 2 Belmont winners, most recently Derby champ Thunder Gulch doubling-down in 1995. But note Creator won from the 13-hole in 2016; Tonalist from post 11 in 2014; and Palace Malice from the 12 in 2013. The outside draws should not be a big deal for the leading contenders.
The Belmont Stakes pace is expected to be provided by Joevia, who starts from 1-post. Justify won last year’s Belmont from the rail, the 24th horse to do so since 1905, easily the most of any post position. But few expect Joevia to follow suit, though he should take the field as far as he can. Todd Pletcher-trained stablemates Spinoff (post 6) and Intrepid Heart (post 8) could provide the pace pressure, along with War of Will and Tax (4).
As for post draw winners and losers, no one seems obviously compromised negatively. Spinoff, Sir Winston and Intrepid Heart all have had some issues at the start of their races and break together in posts 6-8, which could be a spot to watch. Intrepid Heart may have gotten some break in the 8-hole and a chance to stalk outside some of the other speed.
Bourbon War will race with blinkers off in the Belmont, while Intrepid Heart races with blinkers on.
Prior to the post position draw ceremony, Xpressbet.com blogger and Xpressbet Belmont Stakes Wager Guide handicapper Jon White was honored by the New York Racing Association with the Joe Hirsch Award for his 2018 Belmont Stakes coverage.
Here’s the full field for the 151st Belmont Stakes:
1. Joevia (Jose Lezcano) 30-1
2. Everfast (Luis Saez) 12-1
3. Master Fencer (Julien Leparoux) 8-1
4. Tax (Irad Ortiz, Jr.) 15-1
5. Bourbon War (Mike Smith) 12-1
6. Spinoff (Javier Castellano) 15-1
7. Sir Winston (Joel Rosario) 12-1
8. Intrepid Heart (John Velazquez) 10-1
9. War of Will (Tyler Gaffalione) 2-1
10. Tacitus (Jose Ortiz) 9-5